“Our church has the best youth ministry in town.”
“Everybody knows we offer the best children’s ministry in the city.”
“Our vision is to be the best church in the area.”
Over the last ten years I’ve heard statements like these with increasing frequency. Is this a good thing? Does our desire to serve God with excellence naturally lead us to want to be the best in town? Is the “best” classification the most honorable way to measure our success and effectiveness?
Most people probably view the quest for best as a helpful ambition. Driving to be better and better, at any endeavor, raises the level of quality for all. Right? Competition makes everyone better. Right? In many ways, that’s true.
But what’s necessary to be “best”? In any competitive field, in order to have winners you must have losers. In order to be best, you must conquer the others.
And that’s where the quest for best begins to turn ugly, especially in the church.
In the church, this spirit of bestfulness and competitiveness leads to pridefulness. This has not gone unnoticed by the public. A non-churched mom I interviewed said, “Churches today just want to be bigger and better than the next one. That’s not what church is supposed to be about.”
Yet, the quest for best seems intoxicating. Church gurus advise congregations to find something they can be best at in the community. “What makes you stand out among the others?” they ask. The trouble is, we’re not called to stand out. We’re called to stand behind.
In Mark 9 we see the disciples arguing about who stood out as the best disciple. Jesus confronted their quest for best. He said, “Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all.” In other words, we’re not called to stand out. We’re called to stand behind those we’re called to serve.
If a church is not called to be the best in town, what is it called to be? It’s called to serve. Humbly. It’s called to touch lives with God’s love, one by one. It’s called to be faithful where God has placed it.
No disciple is called to conquer the other disciples in a quest to be best.
Jesus illustrated and summed up his lesson on humble servanthood by picking up one small child and urging his disciples to do the same, to faithfully welcome the small.
It’s not the kind of pursuit that will jetison a church to anybody’s Best 100 list.This post was written by Thom Schultz. You can find the original post here: http://holysoup.com/2013/05/01/to-become-the-best-church-in-town/BE HOLY.BE A MAN.
Several years ago, I got into a debate with a close friend and the conversation went quickly south. What began as a discussion about our theological and political differences ended up in a shouting match in which each person's character was called into question.
I went into the argument with a "win-at-all-costs" mentality. Winning a disagreement was the only way I knew how to disagree, but what I lost wasn't worth the victory. I said plenty of things I didn't mean. As the saying goes, "I won the battle, but lost the war." And lost a great friend in the process. We haven’t spoken since.
I may have won the debate, but it wasn’t worth the cost.
We’re never going to agree with everyone we come in contact with, but we must learn how to disagree in a way that honors Christ and His body.
Disagreement is an increasing norm in our lives, but we're marginally equipped. It's much easier to post disparaging remarks on Facebook, Twitter, blogs and news articles. Digital disagreement allows us to hide behind a screen.
Just take a sampling of the Christian blogosphere, where heated debates on who gets into heaven, the biblical role of women and gay marriage, just to name a few, are commonplace. Spend time scrolling through comments where any of these discussions take place and you'll immediately lose your faith in humanity.
All of this painfully illuminates the question: Why can't Christians disagree well? Why are we so comfortable tarnishing the name of Jesus—whom we all call “Lord”—just so we can win the argument?
Christians spend much of their time focused on how to engage the un-Christian world around them—and rightfully so. Yet in doing so, we sometimes lose our ability to navigate conversations and relationships with our own brothers and sisters.
John didn't hold anything back when he said: "By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another" (John 13:35). We usually apply this to our relationship with unbelievers, but loving “one another” in and amongst our own is an incredible witness as well—for better or for worse. So how can we turn this around? What do we need to do in order to disagree with our brothers and sisters in love.
First, we need to understand that the underlying theme that allows for disagreement to happen in a healthy way is emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence can be simply defined as seeking to understand before being understood. It's human nature to fight for your supposed “right” to an opinion and your supposed “right” to be heard. But the reigning mark of our faith is not holding on to our personal rights, but offering our Christ-reflective unconditional love. It's easier to hoard the opportunity to push someone else down than to sacrifice your right to be heard. But to uphold the name of love, this is often the harder, better way.
Emotional intelligence is sacrificing your rights in order to care for others. This is deeply rooted in the Christian faith: "In humility value others above yourselves" (Philippians 2:3). By focusing only on yourself—your opinion, your agenda, your perspective—you shrink the world. Your problems become the lens you see everything through. You isolate yourself from a world looking for attention, love and human kindness. You cannot care for others when the world revolves around you. And you cannot build the Church body if all you are concerned about is yourself.
Yet in focusing on understanding the other, in an intentional act of love, your world expands. By seeking to understand before being understood, "our own problems drift to the periphery of the mind and so seem smaller, and we increase our capacity for connection—or compassionate action," says psychologist Daniel Goleman in Social Intelligence: The New Science of Human Relationships.
Just like in any family, conflict among Christians will never go away. But when we learn how to seek understanding before being understood, we can begin to have healthy disagreements.
We can learn to focus on areas of agreement over areas of disagreement. And perhaps then, we can restore our reputation of love.This post was written by Tyler Braun of Relevant Magazine. For the original post with comments, go to: http://www.relevantmagazine.com/god/church/why-dont-christians-play-nice
BE HOLY.BE A MAN.
When living in Europe, I was on a business trip kilometers away from Karyn, my wife. Several of us went to a restaurant to have a meal. Over time, the group dwindled down to me, a female colleague and two other men. One of the men was dropping hints on the female saying that he wanted to see if her hotel room was bigger than his, to see her dog that she had back in her room, and other "seemingly" innocuous things.
I excused myself for a moment and as I stepped out of the bathroom to head back to the table, the woman was standing there at the door. She told me, "I don't know if you've noticed but "George" is hitting on me. I am really uncomfortable with him doing that. Could you make sure that I am not alone with him?"
She and I had become fairly good friends, we both had similar supervisory positions in the same company and I was kind of mentoring her since she was new to the position. I said to her, "what would you like me to do?" She responded, "when we back to the hotel (we were all staying at the same hotel), could you walk me to my room? That will discourage George and he will get the message I don't want him in my room."
I had no reason to believe that she had designs for me, but being a male with a big ego, I was taken aback for a moment. I had to make a decision. Which is more important at this moment? To respect and honor my female friend's request and risk people thinking I went to her room or choose to not be alone with her and avoid even the appearance of evil?
Do I choose to walk her to her hotel room and risk rumor or do I not so as to avoid any gossip? Do I choose to honor her or protect my reputation? It should be noted that she apparently did not have designs for me, she was wanting me to help send a message to a man who was engaging in sexual innuendo.
So, why the tire? Let me use this tire to illustrate the decision-making model.* Imagine at the center is my desire to please God in all that I do. That is the axle of this model. Now, imagine this tire divided into three parts. Each part representing the three goals of Ironstrikes. All of these goals are admirable and God-honoring. However, I was now faced with my personal integrity or honoring a woman , a choice between two good, yet seemingly conflicting goals.
This tire, separated into three parts, the three goals, is constantly on the move. For the tire to sit still and lay flat on one goal results in an out of balance tire. It will become flat if it doesn't rotate. At times, one goal is hitting the ground, at other times, another goal is in play. So, in following this illustration, no goal has precedence over the other. In making this decision, I had to keep those three goals in mind with full consideration of the axle, pleasing God, as the central basis. Pleasing God is what these goals revolve around.
I told my female friend that I would be glad to walk her back to her hotel room. As we went back to the table to conclude the conversation, I was praying about my decision and asking God for His wisdom. "Lord, did I make the right decision? Is honoring my friend's request more important at this moment than protecting my reputation?" The answer came pretty clearly.
Now, lest you think I'm crazy, no, I didn't hear God's audible voice. I felt a calm, a real peace at this decision and then in my head, God spoke thru my thoughts, in my own voice I heard, "You do what is right and I will protect your reputation."
We dismissed ourselves and I walked her back to her room. It was about a 15-minute walk. We got to the hallway that led to her room and she thanked me and went to her room. I then went to my room and called Karyn letting her know what happened so if she heard any rumors, she would know the truth.
So what do you think? Did I make the right decision? You may be thinking, "Dale sure made a big deal out of nothing." Maybe I did, maybe not. However, I learned how little things can become big things. I'm hoping that my example encourages you to be sensitive to God's leading in your life.
* I am indebted to my parents who devised this decision-making model. I have altered it here to fit this illustration.
BE A MAN.
Here is an anonymous confession by a reader of this blog. It is edited slightly and names are changed to protect the identity of the individuals. It is posted here with his permission.
"Dale, I have struggled over sending this to you. I don't know why I am. Maybe leading by the Holy Spirit. I'm not looking for anything out of it. If anything, maybe it will help someone else. You're blog posts on pornography have hit closer to home than you may know.
You probably know already that Mary and I are no longer married, but I don't know if you are aware of the circumstances that brought that split about. In 1995, I sexually molested my daughter. I have not voluntarily told this to anyone. In fact when asked if I have children, I have recently started telling people, "no," so I don't have to explain or make up a story about why I can't see them. I was arrested and spent several months in jail and the next four years in psychosexual counseling.
Because of my sin, I destroyed or at the very least damaged several lives. Mary was so hurt she left not only me but her faith. I have kept up a little with the kids (I have a permanent no-contact order) through MySpace and Facebook. John and Sally have graduated high school, but they both appear to be heavily into the occult. They are doing drugs and drinking. Bobby seems to have gotten on a better path (finally). I can read their wall posts, but if I were to contact them, it would be a mandatory six months in jail. So, I have watched my kids grow up online due to my actions.
All three kids have been in and out of foster care. John and Bobby have both been incarcerated. Mary has been through more than I am even aware of. I am devastated to know the damage I have done to these innocent lives. Would things have turned out differently if I was still in the picture? I don't know, but I would like to think they would. I did read on Mary's facebook page that her new boyfriend and Bobby were baptized a couple weeks ago. So, hopefully things are on a better track for her. I continually pray for them.
I have been addicted to pornography and sex since I was in my teens. I recall shoplifting pornographic magazines from the store when I was in junior high. When I was working for a city in Montana, I found a stack of porn in one of the trucks. I sat parked in that truck for several hours looking at those magazines. I had a tough time explaining to the boss where I had been with the truck. I made up a lie to cover myself.
I am reluctant to tell you what has happened to me, because I don't want to sound like I'm looking for pity. I want no sympathy from anyone. For what I did there is no pity warranted. I hate this kind of behavior in others. I am repulsed by it.
What has my crime/sin cost me...?"
"Everything! I lost my wife. I never got to see my kids grow up. I lost my ordination in the church. I lost friends and family who can no longer stand to be around me."
In the last several years I have lost jobs when employers found out about my past. I have had difficulty finding jobs, especially in the last couple years where everyone now does a background search.
I have to register as a sex offender for the rest of my life. When I move, my neighbors are informed of my crime and who I am, including a picture. I have been denied residency because of my crime. Every six months a sheriff's deputy shows up at my door to make sure I still live here. I have a felony conviction that denies me entry to other countries.
I have been asked not to attend two different churches including what I considered my home church. I attend church regularly, but now I will not fill out a visitor card for fear of being asked to leave. The church is a mega-church. 4,000+ attendance, and I don't know anyone there.
What I did was over 15 years ago, and I have lived a model life since. I haven't even had a speeding ticket since 1984. I pay all my bills on time. My faith in Christ has never dwindled. I know that without my faith, I would have ended it all years ago.
I knew I had a problem, but fear kept me from finding help. I never considered how much it would cost (myself and others). I told myself it would never happen again, but without counseling the cycle just continued.
I have always been kind of a loner. I never really fit in, so I have kept to myself. As a result, I have taken to living in isolation. I have no close friends, but I have 400+ facebook "friends." If they only knew... This is the beginning of my cycle... then depression...
How have I broken the cycle?
1. Awareness - I was made painfully aware of my problem. I recognize that I have a propensity to porn and I avoid it.
2. Admission of problem - I have admitted that I have a problem, and that it is a problem.
3. Recognize cycle - In my four years of counseling, I learned to recognize that my failings came in cycles. I found that when that cycle was progressing toward sin, there were ways to avoid it, to break the cycle.
4. Avoidance - I have used several things to prevent entering into my destructive cycle over the years. I can't say that it always works, but I have found that these help: 1) Turning off the TV or computer, 2) Prayer or read my Bible, and 3) Negative reinforcement ~ snapping a rubber band on my wrist (when I think about it)
5. Redirection - Find something else to do. Go for a walk, fish, read, exercise. Anything healthy."
Anonymous will be reading your comments. So please let him know what you think...
BE A MAN.
First I want to apologize for talking about my son a lot in this blog. If you are reading this and making the inevitable conclusion that this post is about my son as well….you are right. Just humor me…stick with it….it will be over soon. Also, in a related matter…my son rules.
For a few weeks now, we have introduced our son to the concept of prayer sticks. These sticks have the names of various friends, and family written on them. Each night, Josiah will pull a stick out of the jar, and after his story, that is the stick we pray for. We have been praying with him since he was an infant, but he would mostly just listen or look at mommy and daddy shutting their eyes and make funny noises while we prayed.
When he first began to talk, he would say “Amen” when he knew the prayer was over. Several months ago, he asked us if he could pray. Often it would be him bashfully mumbling and we couldn’t understand a word. Within the last week, our son has asked to pray and his prayers have been coherent and actually very profound. I won’t go into the content of the prayers but it seems that God shows up when he prays. Lately, at the end, my wife and I will look at each other with amazement and wonder where he got the idea to pray for these specific areas of need.
Don’t take this as a statement of theological fact, but I almost wonder if God hears these prayers a little louder than most prayers that I pray. Not because God loves anyone more or less, but when prayers are prayed with innocence and sincerity at this level, one can feel an angel walk by.
My point? Teach your kids to pray. Prayer is a powerful weapon when yielded by someone as skilled as a child. Let them loose on the landscape of divine communication and just watch what happens.
Apparently with prayer sticks…..prayer sticksThis post was written by Rev DeCrastos. For the original post, go to: http://other-words.net/2013/04/17/prayer-sticks/For discipleship resources for your children, go to: http://www.ironstrikes.com/for-dads.html and http://store.seedbed.com/products/echo
I’ve known more than one pastor who was a sexual predator. And, if it makes the reader feel any better, every one of them is out of the ministry now.
My observation however is that no serial adulterer occupying the pastor’s office entered the ministry with such sordid intentions. He fell into sin and one thing led to another. (Sound familiar? It’s how life works.)
So, what follows is for young ministers in particular who have not been snared in the lust-trap and wish to make sure they don’t. (For your information, I invited my wife Margaret to add her observations.)
Here are 7 lines pastors do not want to cross.
1) Do not use cologne. Women are sensitive to fragrances, my wife says, which is why they wear them in the first place. When a man wears them, he sends out a subtle signal, the type no wise minister needs to be emitting.
2) Do not hug women. One pastor said he hugs no one between the ages of 6 and 66.
To the minister who argues that “Well, I am a toucher and people need to be hugged,” I reply: a) Granted, but let women hug women and men hug men, if necessary and appropriate. b) In most cases, your “touching” indicates some physical or emotional need in yourself, and is not what healthy ministers do.
Even if your intentions are pure, you make yourself vulnerable to charges of inappropriate touching. And–do not miss this–in the minds of many, to be charged is to be convicted. Best to guard against these dangers.
3) Do not be in your office with a woman alone.
A pastor of a large church told some of us why he does not counsel in his office. “All she has to do is run out of the office screaming and your ministry is over.” When someone catches him following a worship service with “Pastor, could I come by and talk with you about a problem?” he answers, “Let’s sit in a pew right over here and talk now!” Their visit is in public, but far enough removed from people so that no one hears their conversation.
4) Do not be in the church alone with a woman.
This is more difficult for small churches that have no one on staff but the pastor. In my first post-seminary church, the secretary worked half-days. Often she and I were in the building alone all morning. In those cases, you do the best you can at keeping your distance, making sure the doors are unlocked and drop-ins are welcome, and when possible, have others in the office too.
A pastor I used to serve with would sometimes ask me to remain after hours because he was counseling a woman, and wanted to make sure someone else was in the building.
5) Do not make pastoral visits alone. If you knock on a door and find that a woman is home alone, do not go inside but visit briefly at the door. Many pastors take a deacon or their wife with them on such calls.
6) Do not compliment a young woman on her appearance. My wife says with women middle-aged and older, you can say, “You’re looking nice today.” But do not compliment a woman on her dress, her figure, tell her that her diet’s really working, and such. You are stepping over an invisible line.
7) Do not fantasize about women. Most sins of a sexual nature had their beginnings long before as the individual imagined certain situations with some individual. Then, when the opportunity presented itself, he was ready since he had been over that ground a hundred times before.
“Let the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable unto Thee, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer” (Psalm 19:14).
The “do nots” clearly have no end. But here are 7 “do’s” which a minister will want to observe to keep the enemy at bay….
1) When complimented inappropriately, laugh it off and change the subject.
“Oooh, pastor, you look so good today.” “Mmmm, preacher, I like the way that suit looks on you.” “Have you been working out, Brother Al? You’re looking good.”
The insecure pastor soaks this stuff up like a sponge. But you are not insecure. “You are complete in Christ” (Colossians 2:10).
Do not acknowledge the compliment. It will only encourage her. Laugh briefly, then ask about her family or something–anything!–to change the subject.
2) Anticipate situations that may arise during the day and plan appropriately. That is, if you know a woman is coming for counseling, make sure your secretary or another minister is just outside the door. Pray always the Lord will guard you and give you wisdom about these things.
3) When you are close to some woman other than your wife, and you begin to sense all the signs of attraction–your temperature rising, your blood pressure elevating–walk away quickly. Make up an excuse, even if it’s only that “I just remembered something; I’ll be right back.” Then, get to your office or pretend to make a phone call and talk to the Lord. Ask for His divine protection. Just because your chemistry with that person is strong does not make it right. As a mature follower of Jesus Christ, you are beyond running your life by your feelings. (You are, aren’t you?)
4) Center your love, your energies, your everything on the Lord and your wife. (The Lord does not mind being lumped together with her. He planned it that way. See Ephesians 5:25ff.)
The biggest safeguard against sexual transgressions in the lives of ministers is a good relationship with one’s spouse. After numerous cautions against sexual sin, the writer of Proverbs counseled his son, “Drink water from your own cistern, and fresh water from your own well” (Proverbs 5:15). In the margin of my Bible, I’ve written: “Focus on your wife, son!” Read on past verse 15 and he gets more explicit that that, with vs. 19 being one you probably won’t read in church, but it definitely communicates!
5) Have an accountability partner or a mentor. Or both.
If you are truly wise, you will have someone–usually an older, mature minister–to whom you can say anything. Such a veteran pastor has seen it all, has the scars to prove it, and has come up a winner. (The one thing you do not want in such a mentor is someone who has never suffered! Spurgeon said, “God gets His best soldiers out of the highlands of affliction.”)
Once you find such a friend, you must meet with him frequently enough to be comfortable in speaking what’s on your mind. He must be a man of prayer who will pray with you and for you later. There is no way to over-emphasize this.
6) A healthy fear of the Lord is a good thing.
One pastor’s wife said of her husband, “I don’t have to worry about Frank straying. He’s too afraid of God.” He laughed and said, “You’ve got that right!”
Someone asked Andrew Murray the greatest thought that had ever occupied his mind. He answered, “My accountability to God.” Indeed. It’s enough to strike terror into our hearts and to drive us to repentance and submission. “Knowing the fear of the Lord,” Paul said, “we persuade men” (II Corinthians 5:11).
That said, we also rejoice that “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1). Nevertheless, even the saved will give account for what they have done in this life. God help us to be found faithful.
7) Encourage younger ministers to be faithful.
If you’ve been in the Lord’s work as long as a decade, you are a veteran compared to those just leaving seminary. You have a lot to offer them. Reach out to the new ministers coming to churches in your area. Take them to lunch. Then, after the first session, both of you bring your wives. The ministry can be a lonely profession. No church member understands the stresses you and your family have to endure. That’s why no one ministers to pastors better than other ministers.
The goal is to be faithful. Do this and you will find a strength and courage beyond your own. “Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God” (I John 3:21). Yes, and confidence before men, too.
Toward the end of His ministry, our Lord told the disciples, “The prince of this world is coming, and he has nothing in me” (John 14:30). I like that. Readers may recall I told recently of meeting an old couple in a rural Alabama cafe. The man was in his 90s and the woman wasn’t all that far behind. They had been married four years, I think, and were clearly still in love. With a twinkle in his eye, the old gentleman said, “I have iron in my blood and she has a magnetic personality.”
When the devil waves his magnet over us, let there be nothing inside us that responds to his enticements. May we say, “He has nothing in me.”
And nothing “on” me.
This post was written by Pastor Joe McKeever. For the original post, go to: http://joemckeever.com/wp/7-sexual-lines-pastor-cross/BE HOLY.BE A MAN.
I recently interviewed more than twenty pastors who had been in ministry for at least 25 years. All of these men were over 55 years old. A few of them were retired, but most of them were still active in fulltime vocational ministry.
The interview was simple. I asked one open-ended question: “What regrets do you have about the years you have served as a pastor?” Each of the men could provide as many responses as they desired. They could make the answers succinct, or they could elaborate upon them.
Three pastors had as few as two responses; one pastor had nine. Most of the pastors noted three or four regrets. As a researcher, I typically see patterns develop in this type of subjective research. When it concluded, I was able to see seven definitive patterns, and I was able to see the frequency they occurred.
Below are the top seven regrets noted in order of frequency. I received a total of 17 different responses, but only these seven occurred with any degree of repetition. After each regret, I provide a representative direct quote from one of the interviewees.
So what do you think of these top seven regrets? What would you add?This post was written by Thom S Rainer. For the original post, go to: http://thomrainer.com/2012/12/19/the-top-seven-regrets-of-pastors/#.UV1mlb8YsipBE HOLY.BE A MAN.
- Lack of practical training for local church ministry. “I was not prepared for 80 percent of my day-to-day ministry after I graduated from seminary. I wish I had taken time to find some resources or places where I could get practical training. I had to learn in the school of hard knocks, and it was very painful at times.”
- Overly concerned about critics. “I had this naïve view that a bunch of Christians in a church would always show love toward each other. Boy was I wrong! There are some mean church members out there. My regret is that I spent way too much time and emotional energy dealing with the critics. I think of the hundreds of hours I lost focusing on critics, and it grieves me to this day.”
- Failure to exercise faith. “At some point in my ministry, I started playing defense and let the status quo become my way of doing church. I was fearful of taking steps of faith, and my leadership and churches suffered as a result. Not only was I too cautious in the churches I served, I was too cautious in my own ministry. I really felt God calling me to plant a church at one point, but I was just too fearful to take that step.”
- Not enough time with family. “I can’t say that people didn’t warn me. One wise pastor told me I had a mistress. When he saw my anger rising, he told me that my mistress was busyness in my church, and that my family was suffering from neglect. It hurts me to say this, but one of my adult sons is still in rebellion, and I know it is a direct result of my neglect of him when he was young.”
- Failure to understand basic business and finance issues. “The first time I saw my church’s budget, I thought I was looking at a foreign language. Greek is a lot easier than finance. They sure don’t teach you basic church finance and business at seminary, and I didn’t take the initiative to educate myself. I really felt stupid in so many of the discussions about the budget or other church business issues.”
- Failure to share ministry. “Let me shoot straight. I had two complexes. The first was the Superman complex. I felt like if ministry was going to be done well, I had to do it. I couldn’t ask or equip someone else to do it. My second complex was the conflict avoider complex. I was so afraid that I would get criticized if I didn’t visit Aunt Susie personally when she had an outpatient procedure that I ran myself ragged. In my second church I suffered burnout and ended up resigning.”
- Failure to make friends. “I know it’s cliché, but being a pastor can be lonely. I think many pastors get in trouble because we can get so lonely. I wish I had done a better job of seeking out true friends. I know if I had made the effort, there would have been a number of pastors in town that I could have befriended. Sometimes I got so busy doing ‘stuff’ that I didn’t have time to do the things that really matter.”
We were visiting Amsterdam, exploring shops and the canals. At one shop on the canal there were the most beautiful flowers you have ever seen. It was a wonderful day. Everything was perfect. We were walking hand-in-hand enjoying Amsterdam. Kinda like two kids at a zoo. Excitement. Fun. Happiness.
The next thing I know, Karyn says, "don't look right." So, I put my right hand up to block my view. Then she said, "don't look left." So, I put up my left hand to block my view. So, now, I am walking down this street on this beautiful day looking like a horse with blinders. I said, "what's going on?" Karyn said, "we've stumbled into the Red Light District." I dropped my hands and looked around and yep, she was right. There were some windows with scantily clad women beckoning us to come in. We promptly turned around and left that street.
You ask, "how in the world didn't you know that you were entering the most famous Red Light District in the world?" Well, it was still bright out, even though we didn't realize the sun was starting to descend. If it had been dark, we would have seen the red lights warning us that we had wandered into "adult" territory.
So, what does this story tell us about temptation?
Well, I was certainly glad that I had my wife with me. She saw things up ahead that I hadn't noticed. She loves me and wants to protect our marriage. So, if you are doing something new, something you have never done before, it would be good to not be alone. Because you never know what is on that street.
The person you take with you needs to be committed to holiness and purity. S/he needs to be able to stop you when you start to go somewhere you shouldn't be going. Because you never know what is on that street.
Temptation sneaks up on you when you least suspect. We were having a great time. Exploring Amsterdam, enjoying the sunshine and building memories. Then, boom! There it is. Right in front of you. Sometimes, we are lulled into complacency or feeling really good and then we are blindsided. Temptation can come from anywhere. You know why?
Because you never know what is on that street.
BE A MAN.
It is high time you realized that your wives are under attack today! Everything they have been taught from earliest childhood is being subjected to ridicule and scorn. Hardly a day passes when the traditional values of the Judeo-Christian heritage are not blatantly mocked and undermined.
--The notion that motherhood is a worthwhile investment of a woman's time suffers unrelenting bombardment.
--And the idea that wives should yield to the leadership of their husbands, as commanded in Ephesians 5:21–33 is considered almost medieval in its stupidity.
--And the concept that a man and woman should become one flesh, finding their identity in each other rather than as separate and competing individuals, is said to be intolerably insulting to women.
--And the belief that divorce is an unacceptable alternative has been abandoned by practically everybody. (Have you heard about Sue and Bob?)
--And the description of the ideal wife and mother, as offered in Proverbs 31:10–31 is now unthinkable for the modern woman. (She's come along way, baby.)
--And the role of the female as help-meet, bread-baker, wound-patcher, love giver, home builder, and child-bearer is nothing short of disgusting.
All of these deeply ingrained values, which many of your wives are trying desperately to sustain, are continually exposed to the wrath of hell itself. The Western media—radio, television and the press—are working relentlessly to shred the last vestiges of Christian tradition. And your wives who believe in the spiritual heritage are virtually hanging by their thumbs! They are made to feel stupid and old-fashioned and unfulfilled, and in many cases, their self-esteem is suffering irreparable damage. They are fighting a sweeping social movement with very little support from anyone.
Let me say it more directly. For the man who appreciates the willingness of his wife to stand against the tide of public opinion--staying at home in her empty neighborhood in the exclusive company of jelly-faced toddlers and strong willed adolescents--it is about time you gave her some help. I'm not merely suggesting that you wash the dishes or sweep the floor. I'm referring to the provision of emotional support...of conversation...of making her feel like a lady...of building her ego...of giving her one day of recreation each week...of taking her out to dinner...of telling her that you love her. Without these armaments, she is left defenseless against the foes of the family--the foes of your family!
But to be honest, many of you husbands and fathers have been thinking about something else. Your wives have been busy attending seminars and reading family literature and studying the Bible, but they can't even get you to enter a discussion about what they've learned. You've been intoxicated with your work and the ego support it provides.
What better illustration can I give than the letter quoted on page 94. It came from a desperate woman whose husband is rarely at home, and even when he's there he has nothing to say. He prefers the company of Paul Harvey, who asks no questions and expects no answers. Furthermore, he's a first-class punkin eater." You know the story.
Peter, Peter, Punkin Eater
Had a wife and couldn't keep her
Put her in a punkin shell
And there he kept her very well....
Yeah, Old Pete has got his little woman right where he wants her. She's cooped up in a house with two children under three years of age, changing diapers and wiping noses and cooking meals for him and Mr. Harvey. That's some existence for living, breathing, female with deep needs to be loved and respected. Not only does Peter not intend to met those needs, but he forbids her to take them elsewhere. He doesn't even want her to go to a Bible study class because, would you believe, he fears his kids will catch a disease. Never mind the disease that is choking the life out of his wife—the disease called loneliness. To the wives of all the world's punkin eaters, I say, "Go to the Bible study class anyway!" Submission to masculine leadership does not extend, in my opinion, to behaviors that will be unhealthy for the husband, the wife, and the marriage. Nor should a woman tolerate child abuse, child molestation, or wife beating.
The message could not be more simple or direct to a Christian man: the Lord has commanded you to "love your wives, even as Christ loved the church, giving His life for it." She needs you now. Will you fit her into your plans?
This post was written by Dr James Dobson. For the original post go to: http://www.drjamesdobson.org/articles/pray-for-america/message-to-husbands-of-homemakers
BE A MAN.
When my daughter was two years old she ran away from home. It wasn’t exactly a pre-meditated fleeing. Truth is, someone (most likely me) left the back fence gate unlatched. So while my wife stepped inside to answer the phone, our little (evil) Yorkshire terrier made a break for it, taking our sweet little toddler as an accomplice on her cross-neighborhood joy-run.
Who knew a two year old with a saggy diaper could run so fast? In less than 60 seconds she was gone. Vanished. Completely out of sight.
A panicked call had me speeding home from the office while a band of concerned neighbors started the hunt. Thankfully, just as I was frantically screeching into our development, relief came. They’d found her (and unfortunately the dog, too) nearly three streets away and just a few yards short of a retention pond, completely oblivious to the chaos her devious curiosity had created.Here’s what I know…
I would have wrestled a bear to find my daughter that day (because, as you know, there is a burgeoning kodiak population here in suburban Indianapolis). Nothing else mattered. Meetings. Deadlines. Obligations. Life paused until she was back home safe where she belonged. We dropped everything to go and find her.
And that’s exactly the way God feels about you and me (but I fear we’re internally wired to think the opposite).
We see it from the very first chapters of the Bible:
“The woman stared at the fruit. It looked beautiful and tasty. She wanted the wisdom that it would give her, and she ate some of the fruit. Her husband was there with her, so she gave some to him, and he ate it too. At once they saw what they had done, and they realized they were naked. Then they sewed fig leaves together to cover themselves. Late in the afternoon, when the breeze began to blow, the man and woman heard the Lord God walking in the garden. So they hid behind some trees.
The Lord God called out to the man and asked, “Where are you?”
When Adam & Eve sinned, they were the ones that covered up. They were the ones that ran and hid. God came looking for them.
And He’s been pursuing us ever since.
You see, we instinctively think we have to clean things up. That we’re the ones who right the wrongs. That we’re the ones who must do the work to fill the gap between our sinful selves and a holy God. That we’re the ones who have to pay the price. That we’re the ones sentenced to go looking for a God who has hidden Himself from our ugly screw-ups.
But let me remind you, Holiness came looking for sinfulness. Jesus chased you all the way to a cross. Not to destroy you, but to redeem you. And then to empower you, transform you, and call you to something greater.
He’s looking for you. Right where you’re at. No matter where you’re at. It’s time to stop hiding and let yourself to be found.
This post was written by Erik Cooper. For the original post, go to: http://beyondtherisk.com/2013/04/10/i-would-wrestle-a-bear/BE HOLY.BE A MAN.